CAIRO: Around 200 ma’azouns, or marriage registrars, have organized a sit-in in front of the People’s Assembly building in protest at the legislative authority’s failure to draft a law to form a Supreme Council for Marriage Registrars.
The ma’zouns believe they need an authority to oversee their welfare and protect their rights as in any other profession.
This comes at a time when the Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud has announced that several marriage registrars will be put on trial for conducting underage marriages. More than 9,300 such marriage were registered in Egypt over the past year and conducting such marriages has become punishable by law as a result.
Under a recently-amended child law approved by the People’s Assembly in June 2008, Article 7 raises the minimum marriage age for females from 16 to 18. According to article 227 of the penal code, registrars who conduct underage marriages face punishment of a maximum two-year prison sentence and a fine that does not exceed LE 500.
Even though there are approximately 8,000 ma’zouns in Egypt, only around 200 participated in the sit-in Saturday.
“The marriage registrar is a state employee who doesn’t get a salary. The Ministry of Justice supervises their work but nothing more, therefore we are calling for the creation of a Union for Marriage Registrars which will guarantee their financial rights, pension and insurance, said Abdel Meniem Awadallah, head of the Association of Marriage Registrars, who did not participate in the sit-in but supports it.
He added that the Ministry of Justice had previously approved the creation of a Supreme Council for Marriage Registrars but had not followed through. Additionally, the PA was supposed to approve a related draft law during its last term but has failed to do so.
Muslim marriage registrars support the fact that there needs to be a syndicate or supreme council uniting them. “Like any other profession in Egypt we need a body to speak on our behalf , currently everyone is working separately and their main concern is short-term profits, said ma’zoun Shawky El-Bastawisy.
“We need a body to negotiate for us with the government regarding benefits such as pension and medical insurance, as well as managing a fund to provide loans to those in need, he added.
El-Bastawisy explained that currently ma’zouns charge LE 250 as well as three percent of the dowry.